The Northern Lights Wildlife Society is looking for food donations to help feed 30 orphaned cubs before they go into hibernation for the winter.
The 26 black bear cubs and four grizzly bear cubs, which come from around the province, are underweight and need sustenance.
“Most of them came in late this fall and they’re underweight so they won’t be able to hibernate,” said Angelika Langen, owner of the shelter.
“It’s a little bit of an unusual situation for us; Usually, we get cubs earlier in the year and about half the group is asleep around this time of year.”
She said they only have eight cubs that are the appropriate weight to go into hibernation, but the rest will need to be fed daily.
A bear’s staple diet includes almost any kind of fruit and vegetable, fish, meat and grains in pellet forms.
“With the colder temperatures and them being underweight, they’re ravenously hungry. We’re putting a lot of stuff in there and they’re eating it . . . We will be needing a lot more food throughout the winter than we usually do,” she said, adding that each cub will need roughly 15 pounds of fruit or vegetables a day.
A normal grizzly cub weighs between 70-100 pounds, while black bears will weigh between 50-70 pounds; but some of the cubs in the shelter weigh as little as 17 pounds.
On average, the shelter cares for 20 cubs over the winter, with just 10 in residence last year.
However, this season they have a high number of cubs to feed, something Langen attributes to a poor food crop and mother bears being killed in motor vehicle accidents.
“The animals came closer to humans because humans typically settle in areas where there’s a nice setting of nature, which means it’s good water and good food supply so the bears travel there to find their food supply,” said Langen.
“We have a really high number of bear moms killed this year in car accidents. Two of the grizzly bears we have the mom got hit by a vehicle and several of the black bears as well. It’s been really common this year.”
After hibernation, the bears will be released into the wild where they came from in June or July.
In the meantime, Langen said they are looking for any food donations of fruit vegetables, fish or meat.
Monetary donations can also be made at www.wildlifeshelter.com.